Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashlee Nino.
Ashlee, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story begins in Fort Worth Texas, where I lived the first 19 years of my life. I have always been incredibly independent, stubborn, creative and driven. I started dance at the age of two, competing by five and by the age of 12, I knew I wanted to move to Los Angeles. Coming from a family who had never even been on a plane, I was the definite black sheep. My parents have always been supportive and I thank them endlessly. But of course, skeptical of my twelve-year-old career choice.
So, when I tried to move to LA at the age of 13, they shut me down. Again at age 16, I tried and my parents begged me to at least finish high school. I ended up graduating and completing my first year of college in Texas. Still, with everything in my heart, I knew where I needed to be. So, with the $3,000 I had saved, I rented my own place online, (without my parent’s consent) and then told them I was moving. I guess, they kind of had no choice. They hitched my car to their trailer and drove me across the country. My mom crying the entire way.
Thirty-four years later, I can officially say they are proud and completely blown away by what I have accomplished. I moved to Los Angeles and got signed to one of the top dance agencies within my first month. I have been so blessed to have worked and toured with artists such as Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, The Jonas Brothers, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell, Missy Elliot and more. I have danced across the big screen in movies Step Up 3D and Big Mommas House 3. And have almost checked off every award show in the books. including The Oscars, American Music Awards, and Billboard Awards.
In the last three years, my life has changed dramatically. I am now a mommy to the most amazing boy named Zephyr Axl. Not only has he made me a mom, but has created new opportunities for my career path. When I was near the end of my pregnancy, my dance career had to be put on hold. Instead of going to work for someone else, something completely foreign to me, I started my own business. In three short years, I have built three businesses from the ground up and am now the CEO of” Barking Dogs Ranch” A boutique dog boarding and training ranch; “Mom Together” A creative and media direction company with an emphasis on mom/baby products; and “Big Valley Tiny House.” We have just completed the build of our second tiny home that is successfully renting in the Los Angeles area.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One thing I can say is that it’s true; if you really love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I think this motto has made my life a lot easier. With that being said, a life in the entertainment/creative industry can be very unstable. I have lived check to check and suffered from severe hormone imbalance during and after my pregnancy, which caused Postpartum depression. The amazing thing is that when you’re faced with uncertainty or desperation, beautiful things can come out of it.
When I got pregnant, I was forced to create a new job for myself because my dance career had to be put on hold. I turned to another passion of mine, dogs. My husband and I had only a small amount left to our name in savings. We questioned whether we live on that small amount until another job comes along, or spend it ALL and create our own business. We took that gamble and built “Barking Dogs Ranch.” Within six months we had paid ourselves back and the business is still going strong.
When I was facing postpartum depression I turned to another mom friend of mine. Together, we created “Mom Together.” An online platform where moms can come together and MOM TOGETHER. Our community has quickly turned into a business where we specialize in creative and media content for other brands.
My most recent project is taking me back to building with my dad as a child. I have completed my second tiny home. Building it almost entirely from the ground up. I have definitely made some building mistakes and it has cost us a lot financially. I live and learn from my lessons but have no doubt they will all become successful.
Please tell us more about the various aspects of your work.
BARKING DOGS RANCH – is a boutique dog boarding and training service located on a half-acre in one of the last agricultural neighborhoods of LA. Every dog who stays with us gets their own suite. Fully furnished with a toddler-sized bed. They have unlimited time in our play yards and get basic leash training with every stay. We are so proud to be a completely cage-free facility. Our home environment makes their stay feel as close to “home” as possible.
MOM TOGETHER – Is an online platform where moms can come together and MOM TOGETHER. We have created a judge-free space full of DIY ideas, our favorite recipes, product reviews and more. We have taken our love for dance and combined with mom life. Creating creative content for brands and companies is our specialty.
ASHLEE NINO “Professional Dancer” – I have been so blessed to have been able to travel the world doing what I love. I have worked with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, The Jonas Brothers, Pharrell, Gwen Stefani, LL Cool J and more. I have danced across the big screen in Step Up 3D, Big Mommas House 3 and into your living on award shows such as The Oscars, MTV Movie Awards, BET Awards, The American Music Awards and more!
BIG VALLEY TINY HOUSE – Located in the valley of Los Angeles, Big Valley Tiny House and The Buena Vida Place are hands built tiny homes available for rent. I am beyond proud to have my hand in everything from the layout of where each thing will be placed to the color of grout. Building and decorating almost entirely from the ground up has given our guests a truly unique experience.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
First off, give it up to my parents. The parents of a very stubborn and strong-willed little girl who didn’t like taking no for an answer. I see the same thing in my son. And although days with him can be exhausting and frustrating, I know we are raising a boy who will make his own mark in the world.
To my friend Roger Lee, who I danced within my last days in Texas. Thank you for putting the kind words into my agency. It was because of you that I got signed, and I am still with the same agency 15 years later.
To my friend Teresa Espinosa who took me in after a bad break up. We because of roomies for six years. Because of her, I learned the power of the law of attraction. She booked me on my first tour with Miley Cyrus and the rest is history. I love you!
To my best friend Stefanie, I have never truly had a friend like you. We are real soul sisters and can basically finish each other’s sentences. I feel so honored to have a business partner like you. It’s amazing to see how far we have come in such a short time and I’m so excited to see where we will go!
- Website: www.barkingdogsranch.com – www.momtogether.com
- Instagram: @ashleenino @barkingdogsranch @momtogehter @bigvalleytinyhouse
Lindsay Rosenberg, Shiobian Photography